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NHS England Boss Knighted in New Year Honours

Simon Stevens, head of NHS England becomes a Sir, leading this year's healthcare field in the 2020 New Year Honours List.

The recipients in healthcare are alongside stars of sport, entertainment, public service, politics, charity work, and "the outstanding achievements of people across the United Kingdom".

The knighthood for services to health and the NHS in England in this year's list came just days after a study in the BMJ found health professionals are underrepresented by the honours system.

The health, science, and technology sector accounts for around 14.6% of honours, the Cabinet Office said.

Health Honours Highlights

Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Cally Palmer was already a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) but is now a dame for services to cancer medicine. She's also National Cancer Director for NHS England and NHS Improvement.

In a statement, she said: "I feel incredibly fortunate to work for the NHS and to be surrounded by brilliant teams making great strides in progress for people affected by cancer. My role is simply to enable them, and all our staff, to do what they do best.

"We’ve seen  exceptional and very significant advances in our knowledge and understanding about better ways of researching, treating and curing cancer in the time I’ve been at The Royal Marsden and it is a joy and a privilege to be able to make these improvements for the benefit of patients in the NHS and worldwide through groundbreaking research."

Prof Lesley Regan, who stood down as president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists earlier this month, also becomes a dame.

Her successor, Dr Eddie Morris said she was an inspiration. "In her time as President, Lesley has not shied away from controversy or criticism and has infinite energy when defending the rights of women."

There were other health related knighthoods; Chair of Genomics England, Jonathan Symonds became a Sir as did Dr Mene Pangalos, executive vice-president, Innovative Medicines and Early Development Biotech Unit at AstraZeneca for services to UK science.

Professor Dame Sally Davies, former chief medical officer for England, now UK Special Envoy on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) said on Twitter: "I am thrilled to be recognised in the New Year Honours with a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath.

"I owe this to the incredible teams I have worked with across the NHS, Govt, third sector, industry, public & global health. There is much to do on AMR so cannot stop yet."

Prof Alan Lehmann, research professor of molecular genetics at the University of Sussex, receives a CBE for services to medical science due to his research into xeroderma pigmentosum and cockayne syndrome.

There's a CBE for Dr Paul Lelliott, former deputy chief inspector of hospitals at the Care Quality Commission, for services to mental health.

Prof Karen Barker, clinical director for trauma and orthopaedics at Oxford University Hospitals, is awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire). Dr Debra Adams, head of infection prevention and control (Midlands and East), NHS England and NHS Improvement, also gets an OBE for services to infection prevention and nursing.

World Dementia Envoy, Dr Dennis Gillings, is named Knight Bachelor for services to the advancement of dementia and life sciences.

Special Recognition for Nurses and Midwives

To mark the start of the World Health Organisation's Year of the Nurse and Midwife in 2020, 12 nurses and five midwives receive OBEs, MBEs (Members of the Order of the British Empire), and BEMs (British Empire Medal).

This includes MBEs for midwife Nicolette Peel who supports women affected by cancer during pregnancy, and Elizabeth Evans, who developed special stoma care services.

Also marking the event, the Duchess of Cambridge sent an open letter of appreciation to all midwives for their "amazing work".

Kate wrote: "You are there for women at their most vulnerable; you witness strength, pain and unimaginable joy on a daily basis."

She described the time she spent behind the scenes at Kingston Hospital's Maternity Unit, saying: "It gave me a broader insight into the true impact you have on everybody you help."

She quoted, Florence Nightingale, whose 200th anniversary is marked in 2020: "I attribute my success to this: I never have or took an excuse" and it is that mantra that I have seen time and time again in all of my encounters with you. You don’t ask for praise or for recognition but instead unwaveringly continue your amazing work bringing new life into our world. You continue to demonstrate that despite your technical mastery and the advancement of modern medicine, it is the human to human relationships and simple acts of kindness that sometimes mean the most."